- Is there an obligation for the USK classification?
- What must be done to get a rating?
- How long does it take until I receive the rating?
- Which formats can be submitted?
- In which progression state must a title be in order to submit it to the USK? What is your definition of “feature complete”?
- Do I need to re-submit the release of an already rated game on a new platform?
- Can the applicant appeal against a rating issued? How can I find out about the reasons for the age classification in question?
- Why do some rated titles not appear on the USK online database?
- Which information can I obtain about my title in development in respect to youth protection relevance?
- Can I distribute an unrated or “indexed” title in Germany?
- I am releasing an online game. Which steps do I have to take in order to be in line with youth protection legislation?
- How can I obtain an IARC rating?
- Can I use the obtained USK rating outside of IARC?
- How much does the IARC process cost?
- In how many countries is the IARC rating valid?
- Can I change the age rating issued?
- Who can I contact in case of criteria or classification inquiries?
1. Is there an obligation for the USK classification?
There is no “must”. Games can be sold to adults and advertised for everyone even if there is no USK-rating. The age classification issued by the Permanent Representatives of the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities of the Federal States (OLJB) is necessary (pursuant to the Children and Young Persons Protection Act) because a game shall only be available to minors when displaying an USK classification. Not only specific retailers and platform holders but also the associations organized within the USK, the BIU and G.A.M.E., will only accept USK-rated games because unrated titles do not bear any legal compliance (and therefore the danger of a possible “indexing” ).
2. What must be done to get a rating?
In the B2B area of our website www.usk.de you can download the submission form and age rating symbols and read through the latest legal information.
The application must be sent to USK, along with the item for checking and documentation. In the case that information and game data are transferred digitally (FTP, cloud transfer), the application must be attached to the mail. The USK is happy to provide an FTP folder for the game to be digitally transferred. Please see to it that all material will be sent within one single package.
The Classification Committee can postpone the rating result for a game until the cover, packshot or manual is submitted.
3. How long does it take to receive the rating?
The game will be examined within 7 (expedited) or 15 working days (regular) respectively. The USK notification and Classification Certificate will be forwarded to the person noted in the submission form via email. The actual date of receipt of your submission at the USK is decisive for the examination period. Please also note the closing times over Christmas and New Year. Deadlines and turnaround times will be extended accordingly.
4. Which formats can be submitted?
- PS-Vita: We are using Test-Kits (not Dev-Kits!). Please send your games as .PKG-files.
- Wii-U: We have CAT-R Readers. Please send us Wii-U Discs or .APP-files.
- PS4: We have TestKits with the latest firmware and can progress PS4 discs and pkg files.
- XBox One: We have several DevKits. Please let us know the exact firmware, sandboxid and proxy / account requirements of your game. We accept self-installing discs, install streaming packages, e-builds and batch installations.
- NDS: We can process .SRL, .NDS and .TAD files. Please do send us the specifications for the correct ROM and EEPROM size
- Wii: Wii-Discs or .WAD files are fine while we cannot install .RPF files.
- PS3: .PKG-files or self booting discs
- Xbox 360: We are using Neighbourhood for copying game content in .xex format or “content” folder. Please try to avoid “xlast”
- PSP/PSP Go: We use DTP-H 1500 DevKits for UMDs and CDs/ DVDs
- 3DS: Please send your game as .CCI or .CIA files, we can process the ROMs by ourselves. Please request the necessary firmware in advance via email
Please make sure to include all assets necessary like SecuRom, firmware updates, serial keys (3 different keys at least) or passwords.
5. In which progression state must a title be in order to submit it to the USK? What is your definition of “feature complete”?
There must not be any severe lockups or A-bugs that would obstruct a linear playthrough. All game modes, FMVs, voiceovers, weapons and levels must be included. We must be able to play through the entire game without any severe problems.
6. Do I need to re-submit the release of an already rated game on a new platform?
Yes, platform conversions will usually be rated in a simplified procedure (statement procedure) while resulting in lower costs. We need the usual, complete material for the age classification process.
A new classification is not necessary for online publications of already rated titles. But in accordance with Art.12 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (JMStV) you must refer to and display the USK age rating symbol on the respective website (or XBLA, PSN, Nintendo eShop etc.). So it is legitimate to use the issued classification for online versions that are identical in respect to their content. Just make sure that the platform holder is informed and feel free to refer to us in case you need clarification on this topic.
7. Can the applicant appeal against a rating issued? How can I find out about the reasons for the age classification in question?
It is your right to appeal against the decision within 2 weeks after the receipt of the USK notification. The detailed text about the specific reasons will be forwarded to you in any case. Until then or for urgent matters you can request information about the reasons for the rating issued from the Permanent Representatives of the Supreme Youth Protection Authorities of the Federal States using this email: staendige.vertreter--at--usk.de.
A written appeal has to be filed in which you should point out the reasons why you think the rating is not appropriate. We will keep you informed about the course of the appeal. Please note that the Permanent Representative also has the right to appeal himself. More information about this can be found in the Arts. 13-15 of the USK General Policy Statement.
8. Why do some rated titles not appear on the USK online database?
There are different reasons to block the publication of a classification process (ongoing procedures, title has been “indexed”/ banned etc.).Besides that you always remain the right to hide the publication until the official release day. If you ticked this option on the submission form, the title will not appear on the database on www.usk.de. Please note that only the applicant’s notification can lift this embargo. As soon as you fulfilled your obligation to send a retail copy to the USK, the classification results will be made public automatically.
9. Which information can I obtain about my title in development in respect to youth protection relevance?
A preview rating through the USK Classification Committee is not possible. Instead, the USK offers an extensive consulting service. On the basis of gameplay or video material (for instance) you can get unbinding advice on certain topics and possible issues. Therefore we can provide you with specific information about youth protection relevant contents of your product. For more detailed information please visit the consultancy section. > more
10. Can I distribute an unrated or “indexed” title in Germany?
Yes, distributing games without a USK rating in Germany is in line with the existing statutory Regulations. Certain precautions have to be considered though: if your program clearly is a game (and no “infotainment” or “edutainment” program) then your title will be labeled as “unrated”, independent from the possible age classifications of other countries such as PEGI, ESRB, BBFC, CERO etc., and can therefore only to be sold to adults. If an allegedly gameplay-identical version received a USK rating at some point is negligible for this matter. Titles without USK rating are also endangered to be placed on the prohibited list (“Index”) by the Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM).
If the respective title has been indexed by the BPjM, specific terms of sale apply These media must not be displayed, offered, announced or advertised publicly in places accessible for minors. While this general ban of advertising exists for these titles (in accordance with Article 6, Section 1, Clause 6 JMStV), the sale is also restricted to verifiably adult persons only.
11. I am releasing an online game. Which steps do I have to take in order to be in line with youth protection legislation?
The regulations for youth protection in online games do not comply with the Children and Young Persons Protection Act (JuSchG) but the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (JMStV). Please inform yourself about our offer and all legal regulations in the USK.online section of our website.
12. How can I obtain a rating?
All licensed platforms have integrated the IARC process into their on-boarding routine. If you want to submit your game or app for publishing on a licensed IARC platform you will be automatically guided through the IARC classification process.
13. Can I use the obtained USK rating outside of IARC?
No. The USK rating issued through IARC is only valid for the digitally-delivered games and apps on the officially licensed IARC platforms. It is not permitted to use the rating for the same game or app on a platform that has not licensed the IARC rating system. The USK can always update a rating if reviews triggered by internal routines or through external complaints proved that information given in the questionnaire was incomplete or incorrect. If the game is also being released on a physical disc, it must be submitted for a USK rating via our classic rating procedure. A classic USK rating will always overrule a rating received via IARC. It is unchangeable, legally fully binding, not depending on the distribution channel and safe from being indexed in Germany. Also we recommend using this USK rating procedure if you are planning a marketing campaign prior to or after the launch of your product, to ensure that your communication features the correct USK label. You can obtain said rating using this link.
14. How much does the process cost?
The process is generally free of charge for developers of games and apps. The licensed platforms are handling all fees so for further inquiries please do contact your platform directly.
15. In how many countries is the rating valid?
At this point the rating boards associated with IARC serve more than 1,5 billion users. Territories without a dedicated rating board will be provided with generic IARC logos. The IARC system therefore provides a worldwide distribution. More information can be found on www.globalratings.com.
16. Can I change the age rating issued?
A classification can only be appealed against directly before the finished process and the data transfer to the platform. After filling out the questionnaire you can contact single rating boards directly or appeal against all different ratings issued. Also it is possible that regional rating authorities will alter the ratings after release if reviews triggered by internal routines or through external complaints proved that information given in the questionnaire was incomplete or incorrect.
17. Who can I contact in case of criteria or classification inquiries?
For all remaining questions on the IARC system, its functionality and the resulting classifications please use our contact form.